Soda ash and baking soda are two chemicals that are mistakenly taken for each other. Such a mistake is inevitable owning to great similarities that exist between the two chemicals. Even with that, the two chemicals are not to be mistaken as there are disparities between them.

The first thing to know as a background knowledge for this article is that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate while soda ash is sodium carbonate. This article will point out 5 major differences between soda ash and baking soda you should know.

1) Formula

Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate is a chemical salt consisting of sodium cations and bicarbonate anions. The chemical formula is represented by NaHCO3. During thermal decomposition, baking soda will yield soda ash and carbon dioxide.

Soda ash is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Na2CO3. The chemical has hydrate forms and the molecular formula is Na2CO3.nH2O. The 'n' represents the number of water molecules present in the chemical. For instance, sodium carbonate decahydrate with 10 water molecules will have the formula Na2CO3.10H2O.

2) Structure

Baking powder is a white solid salt with a crystalline shape. It has a monoclinic crystalline structure. It is an odorless chemical and decomposes to yield sodium carbonate at a temperature of 50°C.

Soda ash on the other hand is a white solid with different types of crystalline structure depending on its water of crystallization. The anhydrous form has a monoclinic crystal structure while the monohydrate and the heptahydrate has an orthorhombic crystal structure. In all of its forms, it is white in color, hygroscopic, and odorless.

3) PH Level

Baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate is a low alkalinity chemical. 1% aqueous solution of baking soda will have a pH of 8.5 at 25°C. It is safe to say that it is an acidic salt.

Soda ash known as sodium carbonate has a high PH of about 11.6. This simply shows that the chemical is very high in alkalinity. It can also be called a basic salt. As a result of this high alkalinity, it is used to raise the alkalinity of water in the pool.

4) Chemical Names

Baking soda has different chemical names it is being called. The most popular of these names is sodium bicarbonate. The chemical has a IUPAC name of sodium hydrogencarbonate. Other names include Bicarbs, Bicarbonate of Soda, Natron, Natrium Hydrogen Carbonate, and Nacholite.

Soda ash likewise has many names it refers to. Its major name is sodium carbonate which it is popularly called and also doubles as the IUPAC name. Other names are Disodium Carbonate, Sodium Trioxocarbonate, Soda Crystal, and Washing Soda.

5) Can You Replace Soda Ash With Baking Soda

It is possible to replace soda ash with baking soda if it is not available. However, you must heat baking soda with a heat of 50°C and above. When you do this, the chemical liberates carbon dioxide and the leftover is a sodium carbonate.